Combination povidone-iodine and alcohol formulations more effective, more convenient versus formulations containing either iodine or alcohol alone: a review of the literature

J Infus Nurs. 2005 Sep-Oct;28(5):314-20. doi: 10.1097/00129804-200509000-00004.


Topical antiseptic formulations containing single active ingredients of alcohol and iodine are recognized by the Food and Drug Administration as "generally safe and effective" for "preparation of the skin prior to surgery" or "prior to an injection" including "catheter care, ostomy hygiene, and intravenous site preparation" (Federal Register, 1994). However, a synergistic effect results from the combination of ethyl or isopropyl alcohol and povidone-iodine. Because each active ingredient has different modes of action and performance characteristics, these combination formulations are faster acting with a broader spectrum of antimicrobial activity than formulations containing povidone-iodine alone, and more persistent than formulations containing ethyl or isopropyl alcohol alone.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Disinfectants*
  • Ethanol / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Povidone-Iodine / therapeutic use*
  • Skin Care / methods
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Disinfectants
  • Ethanol
  • Povidone-Iodine